For every human tragedy offline, there will inevitably be a group of dedicated fuckers trying to make it worse using the internet. Today’s example is the #BaltimoreLootCrew, spreading white supremacist bile and misinformation about the Freddie Gray protests.
Internet racists have long enjoyed using out-of-context and wholly unrelated photos to demonize black people during emergency conditions—the pastime dates back to at least to Hurricane Katrina. But as Motherboard points out, Twitter has made it easier than ever to quickly and efficiently spread toxic bigotry to the credulous and uninformed.
If you look at the #BaltimoreLootCrew hashtag, you’ll see what looks like Baltimore residents—all black—bragging about things they’ve stolen during this week’s civil unrest. But none of these photos are real. Instead, it’s the work of 8chan-affiliated white supremacists, bubbling over the sort of message board fecal matter that would’ve been confined to /b/ in the era before social media. Those were the days! Now, malicious falsehoods have been democratized.
The line “Fuck yeah! I can’t wait to start playin me some Bloodborne!” should be an obvious tip-off that this isn’t real, but the photo also predates the riots in Baltimore.
And so on.
It’d be easy to brush all this aside as horrible Chan-culture bullshit, but there are people who think this is real and representative. This Medium post rounded up several examples of people who’ve notified law enforcement about these fictional looters, or expressed general dismay.